Quiz on Draupadi
  • 1 Who was Draupadi's first suitor and why did she turn him down?
    2 Draupadi appeals to Lord Krishna about being wife to five brothers. What was Lord Krishna's suggestion?
    3 Duryodhana set up a rishi to meet Draupadi for alms. Who was this Rishi and
    what was the outcome?
    4 Draupadi served as maid to Queen of Matsya Raj, what was her name.
    5 Draupadi defends herself against two men who made advances to her. In one
    she was defended by Bheema. Who was the other king?
    6 Which was her husbands tries to protect her from death during the last journey
    of the pandavas on himalayan slopes?
    7 Draupadi's skin had natural fragrance of which flower?
  • Attempts :
    1. (Not sure) Karna; was turned down due to his perceived parentage
    2. (No idea)
    3. (This seems to be one of those long 10-mark essay questions)
    Rishi Dhurvaasa who was famous for his anger and "Pidi Shaapam"
    Duryodhana sent him to the Ashram of Paandavas during Vana vaasam.
    When he went Draupadi had already finished serving food for
    everybody and washed the Akshaya Paathram (the divine vessel given
    to her by Lord Surya - it will grant any and every food item without
    any shortage - "A-Kshaya = never waning" - but one condition - it
    will work only until Draupadi finishes serving food for the day and
    washes it). So serving food for Rishi Dhurvaasa was difficult - but
    refusing was far more dangerous, knowing his reputation for cursing.
    Dhurvaasa Rishi went to take bath before meals. Meanwhile Draupadi
    thought of her usual saviour (who else but today's Birthday boy -
    Shri Krishna). Krishna came, heard the story and asked her to bring
    the Akshaya Paathram. He found one grain of rice stuck to the vessel
    (some versions talk about a green leaf ('Keerai') as well). He took
    the grain, said "May the Almighty be satisfied with this" and ate
    it. And as the Almighty Himself had said this and ate the grain, the
    hunger of the whole universe got satiated, including Dhurvaasa, who
    was bathing. Now Rishi Dhurvaasa felt that he can not eat any more.
    So to avoid an embarassment, he left the place without coming back
    to the Paandava's Ashram.

    4. Sairanthari (am not sure of the spelling)
    5. (1) Keechaka at Viratapuram - killed by Bheema
    (2) Jayadratha during Vana vaasam - she is alone in the Ashram
    and she defends herself. Later the Paandavas search for Jayadratha,
    Arjuna captures him and humiliates him. He is let off on Draupadi's
    pardon. (To avenge, Jayadratha gets a boon from Shiva to have the
    ability to stop all Paandavas other than Arjuna and so happened the
    Abhimanyu episode and the subsequent revenge in the war).
    6. Bheema
    7. (No idea)
  • Dear NV -
    1 Yes, parentage and caste differences - same reason Bheeshma and other gurus give to Karna while he is barred from Archery tournament.
    2 Sri Krishna suggested to her to live with one husband for one year and after bearing each of them a child to retire from conjugal bliss. Draupadi is hence also the embodiment of duty and sensual control.
    7 - Blue lotus. Draupadi's body had the perfume of the lotus held by Sriman Narayana and it could be felt for 2 miles around her.
  • Hi

    Good to read about Draupadi. I saw the mail on the Chitra Devi
    Banerjee's new novel by Pavithra. But I hold the other
    one 'Yajnaseni' by Prathiba Roy with a lot more relevant in terms of
    the story or Draupadi. Written in Oriya, this is a fantastic take on
    the complex character of Draupadi and her turbulant life.
    While I understand the nitty-gritty nuances of the originals, my
    understanding is that it is the interpretations that bring out the
    beauty of the tale. Another interesting novel is 'The second turn'
    by MT Vasudevan nair (Irandam moolam in the original Malayalam)
    which is Mahabharatha from Bheema's view point. Stuck between a
    rightful elder brother and always overstaged by his younger,
    charismatic brother Arjun, the novel looks into the life of Bheema
    and how he handles it.
    You can a read a little review I wrote long back here

    Muthu Prakash R
  • I really liked Palace of Illusions although I felt the author could have well avoided the fictional Karna-Draupadi romance. She does a reasonably good job with describing the horrors of the war, Sri Krishna's character and Yudhistir. Chitra's Draupadi seems very materialistic though in comparison to the Draupadi of the Mahabharat. But the novel is definitely a page turner and does come across as a respectful tribute to the original.
    Muthu, is there an english translation available of Yajnaseni? I must definitely read MTV's second turn, thanks for the reference.
  • Hi,

    Perhaps Chithra's Darupadi was a bit materialistic - and I found it a bit
    irritating, the way she couldn't seem to understand the very basic things
    about human emotions. But I did like the way Vyasa was brought in, and
    several other characters - the depiction of Sikandi, for example. Portraying
    a character like is full of pitfalls, because it defies every norm of
    existence, don't you think?

    BTW - I tried my hand at the quiz but was so afraid that I might answer
    wrongly that I didn't write it out. :) - I didn't know Draupadi's fragrance,
    though. That was news to me. Great questions.

    As for Karna-Draupadi romance ... isn't there a legend that says that she
    was attracted to him (something about him being brother to the Pandavas and
    all that)?

    I must thank Muthu as well, for bringing up these books. Must read them
    definitely. I'm a sucker for anything that has to do with the Mahabharatha.
  • Dear Pavithra, meet one other sucker!! It is a pity so little has actually been written around the characters of the Mahabharat, it is such a fertile readymade ground of characters that any novelist can build upon!!
    Yes there are folk stories that relate Karna and Draupadi. Personally I found it contrived, if a woman is married to 5 brothers she is attracted to the sixth, dont know if am saying it right but something on those lines. And Draupadi and Arjuna were really in love, not like what she says, and Arjuna very much resented the marriage between brothers.
    I felt same as you did that Chitra's Draupadi did not seem to understand basic human emotions.But then very generally speaking most spoilt/indulged children are like that so perhaps the author thought she was too. I did like Shikandi, as you said, although the Shikandi of the Mahabharat is a eunuch, not a man like she describes. I felt the interaction with Krishna and Draupadi seemed very childish at times, as also her attachment to him - again lots of opportunistic love. Also the author seemed very confused on whether to portray Krishna as human or divine or some mix that makes sense to the reader. Granted it is not an easy decision to make for a writer.
    Chitra has done a great job compared to Ashok Banker or other writers who use epics to derive some trashy output. Atleast her work reflects respect for the epic and not a huge deviance from original. Sorry to write so long but I really wanted to talk about this book to someone, must confess I enjoyed it though, very much!
  • I read Yajnaseni in English (yet to learn Oriya!) and think is
    published by Rupa books and I remember buying it in Landmark,
    Chennai 3-4 years back. 'The second turn' is a NBT publication as
    part of the Indian classic series. Should be available in any NBT

    That said, I find Draupadi to be the most interesting character in
    Mahabharatha and unfortunately, not many people have taken the pains
    to study her part. Surprisingly the only books I could find were the
    ones by Prathibha and as you've mentioned Chitra devi. There is a
    story by Mahashweta Devi on Draupadi but its more allegory and not
    the historical tale. Ofcourse, close to heart lies the
    Bharathi's 'Panchali sabatham'.

    There is a cult for Draupadi in the south and Draupadi Amman is
    widely worshipped and praised. She is also equally reviled for her
    decisions (especially one to cleanse her hair with the blood of the
    Gauravas). Like someone said, we either damn our females or worship
    them, never give them the mortal status. Thus being a very modern
    herione of a great epic, we are worried about treating her like a
    women who went through a lot of pain and probably followed her
    dharma to take revenge.

    In Yajnaseni, there is a strong reference to the 'longing' for Karna
    as well. Karna is the first who comes to hit the fish during the
    swayamwara but is rejected due to his caste. The mournful aspect of
    the rejection of Karna which leads to him despising her and the
    guilt she feels for that is given the prime reason for
    the 'infatuation' towards Karna. I dont find it contrived precisely
    because love is a complex phenomenon and the manifestation of it
    varies with person (ie with your GF, wife or son etc). While
    Draupadi's love for Krishna is spritual, for Karna it manifests as a
    tragic longing. Its just this complexity that makes Draupadi hard to
    classify into a box.

    On the other hand, she also shows herself as a vengeful,
    manipulative women when she entices Bheema to kill Keechaka or the
    way she takes the revenge on the Gauravas. She is a difficult woman
    to classify as a romantic idol or a vengeful bitch. She is both and
    more than that. She is a great heroine who never chose anything in
    her life as everything was thrusted on her first by her father, then
    by her husbands and even Krishna uses her as bait. When she dies,
    only Bheema stays with her and everyone else leaves.

    Her complexity and character is unmatched in literary world or the
    physical world. I have read quite a few books and I am yet to find
    another who can match her in terms of the depth of the character or
    the tragic sense she brings into the world as a woman.

    Muthu Prakash R
  • Dear Malathi,

    Its been quite a while since I met someone so interested (and knowledgeable)
    on the subject as you are :)

    I've always wanted to believe that Arjuna did resent the others coming in -
    instead of the general washed up view that's shared in folklore (the way I
    heard it, anyway), that everything was hunky-dory between the others. As for
    Krishna - its very difficult, predicting what that one might have thought
    :) I have, however wondered about Draupadi's motivations in leaving for the
    forest with her husbands. I wonder what her reasons were, and judging by the
    fiery woman she seems to have been, I hardly dare believe that pathi-bhakthi
    was what set her off after them. What do you think?

    Hi Muthu,

    What you say about Draupadi is very true - especially the part about her not
    being able to choose anything. But then, I've wondered if perhaps the women
    who are reviled most in their lifetime are the ones universally worshipped
    after their deaths - that applies to her as well. I can understand her fury
    wanting to cleanse her hair in blood - thus, as they say, bringing about a
    whole war, but to lay everything at her feet is a tad too much, right?

    Perhaps what she really wanted (as many women do) was just to be
    acknowledged as someone important, whose opinions mattered - despite her
    so-called spirit, she was still only someone who'd married five men (gasp!)
    which made a freak. To live your life knowing everyone dissected your
    personal life every single moment can be a torment. No woman deserves a life
    like that.
  • Dear Malathi,
    I found ' Palace of Illusions ' very tedious, did finish it, but was
    so glad
    that it wasn't my introduction to the MBh.
    I might never have become fascinated by it.
    She played favorites among the Pandavas
    &, I thought, didn't transmit all the subtle shades of grey
    of the characters. [wish I could read Sanskrit -- too hard, too late]
  • Good volley of thoughts. I have never looked so deep into the
    characters personalities or what they feel etc. I have even heard
    criticism of her want to cleanse her hair with 100 peoples blood. But
    a women who has undergone such humiliations - a queen being treated so
    badly by the 100 brothers (or 99 brothers :)..what can we expect out
    of her. And above this, the equality (?) or the respect the gents gave
    to a females oath - giveing her what she wanted - I think that surely
    needs a closer look. When we talk about women equality today, it was
    well maintained in those days, where the husband feels that its his
    duty to respect and provide what the wife needs.

  • Dear Kathie, there is a reasonably good translation by Ramesh Menon (pretty bulky though) that you might find interesting.
    Every character in the Mahabharat has many shades to it indeed that is the beauty of the epic. There is noone who is really a hero or a villian everyone has circumstances and people with whom they are both. If you want to pick on any one character we can talk more in detail (I don't want to impose my views or my favorite characters on you :). As Muthu rightly said Draupadi herself is fascinating, perhaps the earliest feminist in the Hindu tradition.
  • Dear Pavithra, to remember, Draupadi was not the only woman with multiple husbands in the Mahabharat. Might perhaps be ok to say she was the only woman who lived with multiple husbands. Her mother in law Kunti had seven husbands (of course Pandu only in name). Our grandparents like to sugar coat to say she got kids via boon which is partially true but Vyasa says clearly that she had kids like...er..like everyone else :)) The grandmother of the Kauravas Satyavati (Bheeshma's stepmom) mothered Vyasa with Parasara before she married Bheeshma's father Shantanu. Her daughters in law in turn again married Vichitraveerya (Bheesma's step brother) but had Pandu and Dhritrashtra with Vyasa. So it was not anything new first of all.
    Draupadi is a very complex woman - when she is married to Arjuna with whom she was very much in love with she is forced to divide her marriage and attention among five men perhaps the first injustice done to her. Sri Krishna's advice to her is to live one year with each husband, bear a child and then be single technically. So her dharma only lasted five years not as long as we think. Throughout her life she is (as most women are ) is used by her husbands, although they retain their respect for her - she is never a doormat, even fends off Jayadratha's advances on her own. Her thirst for revenge/bathing in blood etc might seem excessive but to remember - this was not a time where people sweet talked their way into negotiation or asked forgiveness for what they did. Battle revenge was the only way they showed feelings for one another - that is if we assume that it happened literally. A more symbolic way of looking at it - hair is something to let go, a body
    part that greys, falls off and is made of dead cells. Blood is the symbol of life - by coating hair with blood she brings life back to what was dead in her due to multiple insults (perhaps am sounding cheesy dont' know but trying to put it the best way i can in english).
    More later,
  • continuing on these interesting lines, I saw a play (I forgot written by
    who.. possibly a Kannada writer) .. the play was in English and was about
    Gandhari.. contrary to popular belief that Gandhari tied the bandage around
    her eyes to share her husband's blindness, in the play, Gandhari ties the
    cloth around her eyes cos she is disgusted at her parents and brother for
    making her marry a blind king... she doesn't even want to look at him if she
    is being forced into it.. was quite an interesting take on things.

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